Misty Copeland, (born in September 10, 1982) is an American ballet dancer who became the first African American female principal dancer with the American Ballet Theatre.
Born in Kansas City, Missouri and raised in San Pedro, California, Misty Copeland began her ballet studies at the age of thirteen. When she was fifteen, she won first place in the Music Centre Spotlight Awards. She studied at the San Francisco Ballet School and American Ballet Theatre’s Summer Intensive on full scholarship. Misty joined American Ballet Theatre ’s Studio Company in September 2000, as a member of the corps de ballet in April 2001, and in August 2007 became the company’s second African American female Soloist and the first in two decades. In June 2015, she was promoted to principal dancer, making her the first African American woman to ever be promoted to the position in the company’s 75-year history.
In 2008, Misty was honoured with the Leonore Annenberg Fellowship in the Arts, a two-year fellowship awarded to young artists who exhibit extraordinary talent providing them additional resources in order to attain their full potential. Performing a variety of classical and contemporary roles, one of Misty’s most important roles was her performance in Firebird. In 2014, she made history as the first black woman to perform the lead role of “Odette/Odile” in American Ballet Theatre’s Swan Lake during the company’s inaugural tour to Australia.
Misty has been featured in numerous publications and television programs, including 60 Minutes and the Today Show. She was also named National Youth of the Year Ambassador for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America in June 2013. She received the Young, Gifted & Black honor at the 2013 Black Girls Rock! Awards. In 2014, Under Armour launched Misty as one of the faces of their “I Will What I Want” campaign with a commercial that went viral, gaining over 9,000,000 views to date. Misty’s passion is giving back. She has worked with many charitable organisations and is dedicated to giving of her time to work with and mentor young girls and boys. In 2014, President Obama appointed Misty to the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition.
Copeland is the author of the New York Times Bestselling memoir, Life in Motion, co-written with award-winning journalist and author Charisse Jones, published March 2014. She has a picture book titled Firebird in collaboration with award-winning illustrator and author Christopher Myers, published September 2014. She received an honorary doctorate from the University of Hartford in November 2014 for her contributions to classical ballet and helping to diversify the art form. Misty is truly an inspiration!
Written by WAVE intern: Mariana Cunha